Sometimes the best way to know who you want to be is to notice how you react in the here and now.
Probably most of us have questioned why we have done a few things in the past. Maybe it was breaking up or gaining weight or quitting a job or acting grumpy.
1) What if all you needed to do to find a partner or a job or anything that mattered was a clear awareness of who you are and who you want to be? No promises from anybody, but the concept makes a lot of sense to me. I've been reading several books the past months that make me gravitate toward 1) awareness of my and others' needs, 2) self-acceptance, and 3) living in the moment as my top nominees for having what I want in life. The books I'm thinking of are Tolle's The Power of Now, Walsch's Friendship with God, Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, Levey's Living in Balance and Leonard's The Portable Coach. I use quotes from Tolle and Walsch and some self-exploration to discover who I am (based on past self-awareness) and who I want to be (which I can act on now). By the way, if you’d like to read the several pages of quotes I put together from two of the books, just email firstname.lastname@example.org, and put The Power of Now and/or Friendship with God in the subject line and I’ll send it as a Word document.
When I had a potluck and discussion last March on The Power of Now, and a month later on Friendship with God, I was delighted to hear how 10-15 people reacted to the quotes from the books. Even going around and asking what each person thought or felt about the idea of a friendship with God was interesting, if not inspiring. One of the participants said his favorite words were from Walsch’s Conversations with God Book 1: “Who am I? Who do I want to be?” His take on that was that in any given situation, what we say or do is an act of defining ourselves. When we make a choice to stay in bed after the alarm, we are characterizing ourselves as a person for whom comfort and ease are a priority. If we get up when the alarm goes off, we are declaring ourselves as people for whom intentions and goals and self-discipline matter.
As a single, if we avoid efforts that are perhaps difficult (placing an ad, calling to ask for a date, inviting someone to dance), we are, in effect, describing ourselves as someone who fears taking risks or facing rejection. When we take the actions that could lead to a romantic relationship, we are showing ourselves as persons who have the courage of our convictions, who believe in ourselves, and who are committed to what makes us more alive.
Some of my acts of self-definition this past year:
Note, these are not affirmations, simply statements of self-awareness.
--I am a person who has a hard time resisting the specials in a grocery store, even if I’d ordinarily not buy the items. (I’d prefer to have said that I’m a person who only buys what I need when I need it.)
--I am a person who, to keep my agreements, is willing to walk 15 min. to make another connection when I miss a bus.
--I am a person who likes Big Bang on Thursday night so much that I’m willing to stay up later to finish this article and email it in.
--I am a person who is so passionate about sharing Nonviolent Communication (NVC), that I offered to be available to the 150 people at the large NVC training last year. If they were stuck in some personal or work interaction, they could call or email me for 10-20 minutes of time practicing NVC skills. I extend that offer to readers of your tango as well. See my contact information at the end. The main thing would be to get in touch with the unmet needs on both sides till both felt heard and could then work toward a win-win resolution.
--I’m a landlady who loves connections among housemates, and who usually overlooks what isn’t that important.
--I am a person who so liked the bagels and cream cheese and nuts at a recent gathering that I didn’t stay with my intention to have only a liquid diet for the day.
--I am a self-employed speaker, coach and writer who sometimes lets myself be distracted by activities that don’t support my work goals. (MANY days I can say that I’m a person who sticks with the plans that support my priorities.)
--I am a woman who works out at the gym 2-3 times a week.
--I am a mom who usually accepts that I don’t get to choose how my granddaughter is raised.
2) Who do I want to be?
What would your self-defining statements be for today, this month, this year? If you describe yourself this week as someone who ignores a co-worker you don’t agree with, or who eats junk food often, or who gets angry behind the wheel, the next part of the equation might be to ask, “Who do I want to be?”
What if every time you or I were aware a behavior of ours didn’t correspond to how we would have preferred to act, we asked “Who do I want to be?” I might even catch myself at the grocery store, loading up bargains, and remind myself, “I buy what I need, not just what looks good,” and then return the extra items. Though I often have six different emails in progress, because I’m led to these fascinating links that encourage yet a new email, I have, when I’m moored in the present, listened to my own words: “One thing at a time. You’ll stay more focused.”
Who do you want to be with potential partners, your family, your friends, your co-workers, anyone you come in contact with? You’ll know if you ask yourself in any given situation how choice A vs. choice B promotes or undermines who you want to be. You might even ask people who know you well, “Based on my actions, what kind of person would you say I want to be?” An experience I set up for my February birthday gave me some useful feedback on what my behaviors put out to people. I called it a Living Wake. One Chicken Soup for the Soul piece I read online told of a man, dying of cancer, who didn’t want to miss out on what would be shared at his wake. So he had a party he could take part in also. I asked my 10 friends after we’d eaten together if they’d do it for me, and they indulged me. I put on the tape recorder, went to the next room, and grinned and cried as they reveled in my idiosyncrasies, warmly shared what they appreciated about me, and verbally shook their heads about some of the activities I’d gotten involved in. That 15-minute tape is a treasure. It affirmed that I don’t have to have a neat office or basement to be lovable. Right now, the person I am and the person I want to be around DOING often overlap. I did get my income tax sent in mid-April, I do have flowers on my office table, and the growing box of tasks doesn’t often make me anxious or compulsive. (I want to be a person who lives a long, healthy, balanced life, free of undue stress.)
3) What needs of mine are being met by the choices I make?
If you have trouble knowing who you want to be, do a 3rd inquiry: What needs of mine are being/ not being met by the choices I make? If you don’t have a partner, a career you enjoy, friends who love you, are you needing courage? Persistence? Commitment to action steps? Coaching? Are you someone who sits and waits, who whines, who’s “too busy?” Is that what you want? If not, make different choices that line up with the picture of you that you want to honor.
I want to be a person who gets plenty sleep. G’nite!
For a complimentary 30-minute coaching call, call me at 206-938-8385, or email email@example.com and let's explore who you want to be.